Was Mary Curlee a hero or a backstabbing co-worker?
Curlee was an administrative worker at Kootenai County Fire and Rescue (KCFR) in Idaho. She thought two of her co-workers wasted too much time on personal conversations and brought the matter to various supervisors.
Curlee claims two supervisors told her to document her co-workers’ behavior that she believed to be wasteful.
For several months, Curlee hand wrote a detailed, minute-by-minute log of what the two co-workers did.
One day, while filling in for Curlee, one of the co-workers found her log and also showed it to the third co-worker.
Curlee often referred to her two co-workers as “Buffy” and “Muffy” in the log. Both women thought the nicknames were derogatory and insulting, and spoke to the Fire Chief about the log.
When the chief discussed the situation with Curlee, she said she would never be able to have a good working relationship with the other two women and that she wouldn’t apologize to them. Curlee was fired.
Is she a protected whistleblower?
Curlee sued KCFR, alleging she was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act, commonly referred to as the whistleblower act, for documenting a waste of public funds.
KCFR denied the allegations and moved to have the case thrown out.
The stated purpose of the whistleblower act is to “protect the integrity of government by providing a legal cause of action for public employees who experience adverse action from their employer as a result of reporting waste and violations of a law, rule or regulation.”
Given that, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that there are genuine questions of whether Curlee was fired for conduct protected under the whistleblower law. It refused to throw out the case. The high court said a jury should now determine whether her employer discharged her in retaliation for her documentation of waste.
Should someone who kept minute-by-minute logs of her co-workers’ actions be protected by a whistleblower statute? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.
You make the call: Whistleblower or backstabber?
2 minute read